News Round-Up: August 27, 2020

L-R Michael Caprio, Matt Zarley, Chad Quintero, Randy Slovacek, Greg Chase

Some news items you might have missed:

TBT: Remembering sunsets at our pool (above) when we could actually have a group of folks over for summertime cocktails in our Olivia Newton-John cups. Ah, good times…

The Advocate: The city of Anchorage has become the first in Alaska to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors. This makes Alaska the 40th state where some jurisdiction has taken action against the harmful practice.

New York Times: More than 100 former staff members for Senator John McCain are supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in a show of support across the political divide. The list of signatories includes a range of people — from chiefs of staff in Mr. McCain’s Senate office to junior aides on his campaigns — who worked for him over his 35 years in Congress and during two presidential bids. Republican Voters Against Trump also released this ad today in McCain’s home state of Arizona.

OUT: A bodybuilding gay couple in Malta were brutally slain in their home on August 18. Police are looking for three persons captured on security cameras leaving the residence, as well as a suspected driver in an awaiting vehicle.

JoeMyGod: After GoFundMe canceled a crowdfunding campaign for legal costs for accused 17-year-old murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, ‘Christian’ crowdfunding site GiveSendGo raised over $59,000 in the first few hours.

ABC News: Cocky North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, 25, got it wrong during his four-minute speech during the Republican National Convention last night when he boasted the accomplishments of other youthful politicians in history, like James Madison, who he mistakenly announced signed the Declaration of Independence.

“If you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history. George Washington was 21 when he received his first military commission. Abe Lincoln, 22 when he first ran for office. And my personal favorite: James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.” Today, Cawthorn says he was just testing the fact-checkers.

Trump : “I Was Never A Fan Of John McCain”

During a White House press event with Brazil’s virulently anti-LGBTQ President Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump told reporters he was “never a fan” of deceased Sen. John McCain, and he “never will be.”

This occurred while sitting next to a man who says he’d prefer a dead son than a gay son.

Former AZ Sen. Jon Kyl To Succeed John McCain

Jon Kyl will succeed the late Sen John McCain in the U.S. Senate
Jon Kyl will succeed the late Sen John McCain in the U.S. Senate

Arizona Central is reporting that former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl has been tapped by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to succeed the late Sen. John McCain.

Before retiring in 2013 from an 18-year-career in the Senate, Kyl became the second-highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber.

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain tweeted her approval of the choice of Kyl calling him “a dear friend of mine and John’s.”

Obama On McCain: We Never Doubted ‘We Were On The Same Team’

President Barack Obama, speaking thoughtfully and with grace, honored his former presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain today, reminding a worldwide audience of McCain’s sense of duty, honor, and yes, humor.

Just a few highlights as the we were all reminded of two of America’s higher angels: dignity and respect.

Obama offered a long view on how class versus crass handles differences in politics. After referencing the “petty” and the “mean,” he closed the thought with a quote from For Whom The Bell Tolls:

“So much of our politics can seem small and mean and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult, phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but is instead born of fear.

“John called on us to be bigger than that, to be better than that.

“Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be, but what will happen in all the other days will depend on what you do today. What better way to honor John McCain than follow his example.”

Even President George W. Bush couldn’t resist the temptation to draw comparisons between the current occupant of the White House and McCain: “John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots.”

Meghan McCain Trolls Trump At Father’s Funeral: “America Was Always Great”

Eulogizing her father, Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain took a none too veiled swipe at Donald Trump as she reminded the world, "The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great."

Eulogizing her father, Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain took a none too veiled swipe at Donald Trump as she reminded the world, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

And the audience broke into applause.

Watch below.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman offered his own comparison of temperament as he told the gathering, “His death seems to have reminded the American people that these values
are what makes us a great nation. Not the tribal partisanship and
personal attack politics. In a way, it’s the last great gift that John McCain gave America.”

According to news reports, Donald Trump, who was pointedly not invited to the funeral service of McCain, left the White House midway through Meghan’s eulogy.

Sarah Palin Not Invited To John McCain’s Funeral

Sarah Palin

NBC News is reporting that former half-term governor of Alaska and 2008 Republicans vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, has not been invited to the funeral of her former running-mate, Sen. John McCain.

The Palin camp apparently issued a statement which read, “Out of respect to Senator McCain and his family we have nothing to add at this point. The Palin family will always cherish their friendship with the McCains and hold those memories dear.”

Meanwhile, McCain famously asked both of his presidential rivals – Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama – to not only attend the funeral but eulogize him at the service.

I’m just gonna leave this riiiiiight here.

Donald Trump Finally Issues Statement Honoring Sen. John McCain

Donald Trump

Donald Trump finally issued a statement honoring recently deceased Sen. John McCain.

From the White House press office:

Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment. I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday.

At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy. Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattis, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at his services.

Trump was famously not invited to attend McCain’s funeral.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in runs for the White House, have been invited to speak at McCain’s funeral.

Much was made of the fact that the American flag at the White House, after flying at half-mast for only a day, returned to full staff today.

Trump issued a proclamation late today ordering the flag to be “flown at half‑staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”

Some believe the change of heart came after the American Legion issued a statement asking Trump to return to a decades-long tradition of flying the flag at half-staff upon the passing of a sitting U.S. senator.

Dan Rather: “We Will Need More John McCains”

Sen. John McCain

Legendary journalist Dan Rather on the passing of John McCain (via Facebook):

America has lost one of its iconic political leaders with the passing of John McCain. He was of course a senator of distinction and a presidential candidate. Born into a storied military family, McCain first earned national attention during his years of imprisonment in Vietnam. His sacrifice, heroism and courage during that time is of a nature few, thankfully, will ever be forced to comprehend.

In the political career that followed, McCain was controversial and far from perfect. In short, he was human. But at his best, which was frequent, he echoed the highest ideals and traditions of American democracy. He voted his conscience and spoke out fiercely against the current regime.

I knew John, well enough to admire many of his qualities from up close, not well enough to call him a friend. He had many close friends and I mourn for them and his loved ones. John’s good-bye was long and brave and very public. None of that will lessen the hole he will leave behind.

I also mourn for the fact that John will not be alive to see the repudiation I believe is coming to the current degraded state of the republic. We will need more voices of conscience, more iconoclasts, and more people imbued with a service greater than that of their own greed and power. In short, we will need more John McCains.

Sen. John McCain Dead At 81

 Sen. John McCain, who after years in the U.S. military went on to serve 36 years in Congress, has died at the age of 81 due to glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor.
Sen. John McCain

 Sen. John McCain, who after years in the U.S. military went on to serve 35 years in Congress, has died at the age of 81 due to glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor.

The son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, he volunteered for combat duty in the Vietnam war upon graduating from the Naval Academy.

He was famously shot down over Hanoi suffering two broken arms and a shattered leg, and was a prisoner of war for five and a half years. During that time he rejected early release ahead of his fellow prisoners.

After retirement from the Navy, he ran for and won two terms in the House of Representatives beginning in 1983 and then six terms in the U.S. Senate.

His was a career of extreme highs and lows. He ran for president twice – losing the Republican nomination to George W. Bush in 2000, and then losing the general election in 2008 to Barack Obama.

But his 2008 run for the White House was marred by a series of bad decisions, most prominently selecting the half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. Many in politics today point to that moment as the beginning of a surge of unqualified, untempered candidates that opened the door to the election of Donald Trump.

And in the waning days of the election, as the country became mired in financial crisis, he declared the ‘fundamentals of the economy’ were strong.

While there’s no doubt that McCain was a conservative through and through, one of the hallmark’s of his long career in service was his distinct ability to change with the times.

Although he spent years opposing LGBTQ rights, like his longtime opposition to openly gay and lesbian military personnel, he would go on to become a defender of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.

And six years after it’s repeal, he opposed an amendment to a defense spending bill that could have undercut an executive order by President Obama that banned LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. The amendment would eventually be stripped out of the bill.

In 2013, the self-described ‘maverick’ was one of only ten Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In his home state of Arizona, he was highly critical of a proposed “license to discriminate” bill.

In 2015, he gave his full-throated support to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Eric Fanning, who became the first openly gay Secretary of the Army.

And when Donald Trump proposed a complete ban on transgender military service members last year, McCain stepped up early vigorously opposing the policy, saying in a statement, “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”

His last ‘maverick moment’ of his career came when he dramatically gave a thumbs-down on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year.

In September of last year, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him how he wanted to be remembered.

“He served his country and not always right,” McCain responded. “Made a lot of mistakes. Made a lot of errors, but served his country. And I hope we could add honorably.”

President Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton issued this statement:

Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something o the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day.

He was a skilled, tough politician as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate. He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do.

I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family.

And from President Obama:

John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher-the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.

We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.

Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Senator McCain was a patriot and a hero, whose life was defined by his service and sacrifice on behalf of our country.

“While we disagreed on many issues, later in his career, he became an increasingly vocal advocate for LGBTQ servicemembers.

“In the last few years, Senator McCain blocked anti-LGBTQ language in the National Defense Authorization Act, opposed a ‘license to discriminate’ bill in Arizona, denounced the Trump-Pence Administration’s effort to ban transgender troops and spoke out against the nomination of the anti-LGBTQ Mark Green to lead the Army.

“We join with millions of Americans in mourning his loss, and extend our deepest condolences to Senator McCain’s wife, Cindy, and his entire family.”

Donald Trump, a five-time draft dodger who criticized McCain during the 2016 campaign and questioned if he really was a war hero (“I like people who didn’t get captured”) refused to apologize to McCain in his last days.

As American leaders hailed McCain tonight, all Trump could muster this evening was a tepid tweet which read, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

(h/t The New York Times)

(image via PBS News Hour/FlickrCC license)

Sen. John McCain On Trump: “The Most Disgraceful Performance By An American President In Memory”

Sen. John McCain of Arizona (R)

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has issued a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump’s statements made at a joint press conference today with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the presser, Trump publicly disregarded the reports of U.S. intelligence agencies and accepted the denials of Vladimir Putin on Russian election meddling.

McCain’s statement:

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”